What are your opinions on Frank Wildhorn? I know he has many devoted fans and also many devoted detractors, so I’d like to know where this board falls.
Personally, I’m mixed. I think he has created some terrific pieces (Jekyll & Hyde, The Count of Monte Cristo) but has also created some atrocious ones (Wonderland, Dracula). To me, he is like an American Andrew Lloyd Webber in that he is better at composing stand-alone songs than complete musicals.
I am normally in the anti-Frank Wildhorn camp.
I just remember how he had 3 shows running simultaneously on Broadway and how people kept saying how it was such an achievement, but none of the shows were successful (you could argue that Jekyll and Hyde was because of the length of its run but it also lost money)…and with The Civil War, you had one of the worst musicals ever created.
I agree with Acritz that he does better with stand-alone songs, which is evident with his work on the solo albums of ex-wife Linda Eder.
Most of his shows have a few standout songs as well, even Wonderland has some decent music but nothing amazing.
I think his best score was for Bonnie & Clyde, because when I first heard it, I couldn’t believe it was him. Songs like How Bout a Dance and Dyin’ Ain’t So Bad were both really strong songs….even the latter felt different and better than previous power ballads he had written because he really seemed to get the milleu of the music/era.
I can contend that he can write good music, but I don’t stand by the majority of his musical theatre work.
I think one of his main problems is the dreadful lyricists he tends to work with for his Broadway projects. But he can certainly himself be accused of having sound-the-same-itis in many of his songs. In most cases, you could plop a power ballad from one show into the middle of another at random and not tell the difference, because the scores tend to have no distinct flavor. This is why I also think Bonnie and Clyde is some of his strongest work, because the music is appropriate to the milieu of the show and not as generic as some of his other stuff. That score, and many of his stand-alone songs for Linda Eder, show that he has potential to write interesting, situation-appropriate melodies.
His shows also tend to have bad dramatics. Case in point: Jekyll & Hyde, where something like “This Is the Moment” is exactly the wrong song at the wrong time for that moment in the story. But based on the best of his work, if he were paired with a strong librettist and lyricist, I’d be interested to see what we could come up with.